By Elizabeth Barcelos and Cameron VomBaur
The West season opener has a smaller lineup than usual this year – only the Utah teams and the University of Northern Colorado (Smythe’s lowkey faves) will be making the trip to Salt Lake City for opening weekend. Does this signal a shift in the West, or just a shift in the Beehive State?
An unofficial roster brings retirees back out onto the pitch. Photo credit: Tayyeb Mubarik’s Photography
Though the co-hosts are playing unofficially, this isn’t a pushover crew of newbies. All four Williamses are rostered, along with other familiar faces like Juan Rubio, Matt Jackson, and Larsen Price. As the only pure beater listed on their roster, captain Ray Taylor has a heavy burden on his shoulders if he wants to create opportunities for his chasers. Tom Bautista and Po Matthew, members of the Raptors practice squad, will have a lot to learn with this quad.
University of Northern Colorado
Northern Colorado hopes to pull off a win or two after being swept last year. Photo credit: Tayyeb Mubarik’s Photography
NoCo returns to Crimson Cup after their first ever appearance at US Quidditch Cup. Connor Touchton is NoCo’s biggest threat, able drive and dunk or to distribute the ball dump-off options that he trusts. Case in point, Jenna Carlson was excellent not only as a catch-and-dunk wing, but as someone who could flip the offense when they went to her way behind hoops. However, losing her to graduation takes away a weapon that Northern Colorado will desperately miss.
Raptor Quidditch at the University of Utah
With Liou switching to beater, will the Raptors have a second seeking threat? Photo credit: Sequoia Simone Thomas
This team’s big jump from a tiny unofficial roster at last year’s Crimson Cup to a full squad of rookies and veterans this year makes for an exciting roster. Nathan Liou looks to lead the Raptors beating corps, while people like Lukas Williams and Sandra Sato will continue to improve. However, Liou is also the team’s biggest seeking threat, which could leave a hole in Utah’s Snitch on Pitch beating.
Utah State Quidditch Club
Beater Anthony Snapp looked good last season and only improved during his summer with the Salt Lake City Hive. Photo credit: Vowels Photography
While all three of USQC’s opponents have solid chaser corps, Utah State beaters Dru Smith, Anthony Snapp, and Alli Bouwman may too much for the rest of the field. Utah State is deep in male quaffle in spite of leaving Paul Marygold at home, anchored by star keeper Cameron VomBaur (sorry Cam, but you are! -Liz) and should be putting people out of range. If they don’t, the combination of SoP beaters and star seeker Kellan Huber should take care of any in-range action.
Liz’s Lukewarm Takes
This tournament is going to be won by a Utah college team. But which one? Will it be the University of Utah, with their deep roster and home field advantage, or Utah State, with their more experienced roster and depth at beater?
While I anticipate an all-Utah university final, I don’t expect both teams to get there via a path of easy blowouts. These teams all know each other well, so I’m looking forward to some SWIM games. That’s why I think USQC takes it: they have the tools needed to lock down the game once snitch is on pitch.